I need tips for next year! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 03:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've had a garden the last couple years, but it's never done too well. I need some tips, because I'm determined to make next year a good one!

I need tips like when to start seeds, what should I do to prepare my garden, when do I add the compost, when do I plant the seeds, what types of plants are easiest to grow, should I refrain from planting the same thing in the same place year after year, etc. Or anything else I'm forgetting.

Last year, I had lots of luck with kale and green onions. I've never had much luck with tomatoes or bell peppers. I'd also like to add collard greens, perhaps.

This year, I had some "volunteer" plants (as my aunt calls them)- some kale and onions that kept growing from last year. The kale from last year was a great producer this year! Should I try to keep plants from this year to next, even though they aren't doing great this year? The high here is rarely below freezing, but overnights get colder. Or should I just dig the whole thing up, add the compost, and start fresh next year?

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#2 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 09:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by DevaMajka View Post
I've had a garden the last couple years, but it's never done too well. I need some tips, because I'm determined to make next year a good one!

I need tips like when to start seeds, what should I do to prepare my garden, when do I add the compost, when do I plant the seeds, what types of plants are easiest to grow, should I refrain from planting the same thing in the same place year after year, etc. Or anything else I'm forgetting.

Last year, I had lots of luck with kale and green onions. I've never had much luck with tomatoes or bell peppers. I'd also like to add collard greens, perhaps.

This year, I had some "volunteer" plants (as my aunt calls them)- some kale and onions that kept growing from last year. The kale from last year was a great producer this year! Should I try to keep plants from this year to next, even though they aren't doing great this year? The high here is rarely below freezing, but overnights get colder. Or should I just dig the whole thing up, add the compost, and start fresh next year?
I'm going to do winter sowing again this next year to start my seeds (actually I will start some flower seeds on Dec. 21st), but here is a great garden calendar that will tell you when to start and plant what when in your zone.

I try to rotate crops and try to follow the organic grower book. I would just borrow it from the library unless you can afford to buy it and it has lots of great stuff in it. I also highly recommend the book The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food. I do a lot of companion planting and it seems to really work.

If the volunteer plants from last year are looking sad I would pull them and plant new next year. I would dig up the garden and start fresh next year, maybe throw a winter cover crop on it for the winter.

Cathy toddler.gifMama to James(6)coolshine.gifand Maggie Mae (1)luxlove.gif Wife to Daveguitar.gif

And 3rdtri.gif with #3 bigeyes.gif Due in August 2013!!!

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#3 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! I will check out those books- I'm sure they'll be really helpful. I'm determined to do whatever it takes to have a good garden next year!

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#4 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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Thanks! I will check out those books- I'm sure they'll be really helpful. I'm determined to do whatever it takes to have a good garden next year!
You will do just fine. It takes years of trial and error and even then you can't control the weather or bugs. You can put up bird feeders to get some bug control too. Every year is different, I've just learned to go with it. Oh, and I would recommend doing a soil test too. You can get the info and all the stuff to do it at your local ag extension.

Cathy toddler.gifMama to James(6)coolshine.gifand Maggie Mae (1)luxlove.gif Wife to Daveguitar.gif

And 3rdtri.gif with #3 bigeyes.gif Due in August 2013!!!

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#5 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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You can put up bird feeders to get some bug control too.
Well now, there's an idea. Do birds eat slugs?

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 9 Old 09-25-2010, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You can put up bird feeders to get some bug control too.
What a great idea! At least part of my problem is bugs, so I will definitely do this!

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#7 of 9 Old 09-26-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Well now, there's an idea. Do birds eat slugs?
Probably. They'd have to get them in the early am or at dusk, but I'm sure they'd help some. There is also DE (diatamacious earth) if you having really bad problem with slugs. I would only use it sparingly because it will kill the good bugs too, but it works really well.

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#8 of 9 Old 09-27-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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I had a pretty good garden this year (my first) but did a lot of reading beforehand. Here's what I think made it work:
  • I made my beds 4 feet wide (you could go with 2 or 3 feet) and marked them with pegs and string. I dug dirt from the pathway and sort of heaped it into the bed. I raked the bed a couple of times to get out rocks and grass roots then I used a pitchfork and loosened the dirt in the bed to make it sort of light and fluffy. Supposedly this makes it easier for the roots to spread out underground.
  • I planted things close together in the beds so that once they started growing, they choked out weeds so they wouldn't have room to grow.
  • In one section of the garden, mostly around squash etc, I laid down cardboard with dead grass/hay/straw stuff piled on top. This completely kept the weeds out! I pulled aside a bit of the "straw" and the cardboard has completely disintegrated and the dirt is wonderful looking! I wish I had done this throughout the garden (pathways only because beds were planted close to choke out weeds) but I ran out of 'straw'. Ok, this straw/grass/hay mix: my garden used to be a weedy looking field. Last spring before anything grew I went out and raked the whole section. Any of the worse looking weeds/raspberry bushes went into the burn pile, the rest I piled up to use in the garden. There was some worry that all the dead things would reseed and cause more weeds to grow but so far so good. Next year I'll probably buy straw...
  • I planted flowers throughout the garden and looked into companion planting. I planted marigolds around the potatoes, borage with the tomatoes, radishes mixed in and around the carrots, rutabaga and beets, nasturtiums around the cucumbers and zucchini.
  • I planted everything in family groups so that later I can rotate crops more easily. In other words, the garden is divided into large sections instead of a row here or there that can be switched up.
  • I have a book called Great Garden Companions and it was really helpful (although my basic go to book was the Vegetable Gardeners Bible.)
  • It's hard to say how much of my success was luck or because it was the first time a garden had been planted here so there were less pests. Or if it was all the things I did above. Or a mix. It's sort of like when I think ok, did I not have any problems with deer/critters around my garden because there aren't any to begin with or because I built my 6 foot tall fence so it kept them away? I do know that I started of with LOVELY soil (we're used to dealing with too much clay at my parents). We also had a lot of ladybugs in the garden and other beneficial bugs, a toad and a frog. They were just there. Once I did all the hard work to get the garden ready and planted, there wasn't much to deal with until this fall/harvest.

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#9 of 9 Old 09-27-2010, 03:43 PM
 
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We get better every year. It is a lot of trial and error.

I spent a lot of time doing research about my area and what grows best and when to plant what, etc. I now know when my average last frost is and when certain seeds need to be started. I know where not to put seedlings in my house The local ag extension office is great. My state has a web site online with a wealth of information.

Then I also read up on different techniques and adopted things that will work for us. Some of my more recent favorites were books on square foot gardening, lasagna gardening (a way of layering compost and dirt etc), companion gardening and a book specifically written about growing in my state. We are also in the process of building a chicken moat around the garden. Spend some time online and in the library.

Each year my husband and I keep track of what works and what does not work. I keep notes in the pages of a gardening bible type book I have. Then we expand from there. We grew artichokes this year. I started with 6 seedlings and ended up with 1 plant and 3 little artichokes - Yummy! So next year we will do more. Peas meanwhile ended up being pointless for us. So much work and space for so little yield and I will use the space for something different next year.
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